Vintage Sewing

Vintage Sewing Books & Manuals

July 15, 2019

I love collecting vintage sewing manuals and books! I’ve been collecting for years and I now have a collection of over 100 dressmaking and sewing manuals and books, the oldest of which dates from 1891 with the latest books coming from the mid 70s.

Just some of my most recent finds

I have always loved classic styling, fabrics and fashion. I am a dressmaker and trained in bespoke tailoring at the London College of Fashion. I now own a fabric shop and sewing school, More Sewing (www.moresewing.co.uk). Sewing and dressmaking is my life! I have always looked for vintage sewing patterns but have found problems at times with the pattern fit and the quality of the paper pattern itself. Being able to draft patterns, I have always got on better with sewing books.

I recently drafted this pattern for one of my regulars, the finished suit looked amazing

The books that I have fall into two categories. There are books that I love the look of, even when they are quite basic. 

These illustrations from the 60s look totally different but just as wonderful

Then there are the more advanced and technical books, they really do teach me something and I can use the techniques I learn in designing my own patterns or using them in the classes I run. 

This book from WW2 has patterns for service uniforms!
This book went with a Dressmaking TV programme from the 50s – love the stlye

Where do I find my books? Well, I cannot pass a second hand book shop or a charity shop without having a quick look. I also love a good jumble sale. I do not buy books on the web; I like to hold the book and look at it before I buy it. I am sure I could have a larger collection but I would probably have paid more for it and I would not have had as much fun. Quite a number of my books are from public and professional libraries. It’s sad that more and more libraries are being broken up but at least I am able to give this books a good home.

I love that this book on cutting (from the 30s) has these great illustrations from the author
Classic styling from the Golden Rule

What is my favourite book? It’s not easy to pick one but I do like the Lutterloh Golden Rule book. I have two of these. If you don’t know this book, it is a book of 1/4 scale patterns that you scale up to use with a special measuring system I’ve not come across anything else like them and I love the styling and the illustrations in the book. They are hard to find and if you ever see one going cheap – grab it!

Laura Rigby

  1. oooeeeee! I collect vintage sewing books as well and love using them as inspiration and reference when sewing vintage patterns! I’m curious what book that fourth photo (60’s) is from—-I adore it! Thank you!

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